Thursday, December 6

Mad Max Road Warrior Review

I watched on: Blu-Ray
The price I paid: £19.99 (Mad Max Anthology Boxset)
Notes: N/A

Since the events of the first film things have fallen even further into decay. The world turns dark as the power plants shut down and civilization crumbles. Towns and cities become too dangerous to live in as people quickly turn on each other for what remains of the fuel and food. This is before the nuclear bombs are dropped so plants and food still grow. Mankind has been reduced to the toughest and meanest as survival of the fittest kills off anyone too weak to survive in this new world. The MFP from the first Mad Max has been disbanded with most of its members being killed or going rogue.

Max himself is now a broken man, living on the scraps of the old world. Acting as a scavenger he picks at the wreckages along the roadside taking what supplies he needs from the dead. He is a hardened man, slow to trust and quick to kill. This is a stereotype that’s been abused in the years following the release of this film. Unlike most characters that fit into this battered cold manly archetype Max does have emotions. He is also allowed to show them, in fact, it’s a key part of who he is as a character. As much as he wants to distance himself from people to avoid the pain of losing more loved ones he does care. You can see this during multiple moments throughout Mad Max 2. When he first meets the feral kid you can tell that at least a little he cares about this stray child. This is the small but vital difference between Max and most characterless action heroes. Although he doesn’t want to admit it to himself it’s obvious that Max does care. He is just afraid of going through the same heartbreak as he did in the last film.

Then you have the supporting cast and they are just as important to this film as Max himself is. In fact, none of this film is even from Max’s perceptive. The story of the Road Warrior is told by the Feral Kid as an adult to his tribe years after the events happen. Max himself has become a legend within the Wasteland and all films after the first are campfire stories told about this great warrior. If there is a main character in this series then I’d argue it’s as much the world itself as much as it is Max. This is a place of cruelty and it’s reflected in the people that exist within it. While the members of Papagallo’s tribe that Max allies himself with are framed as the good guys they are not angles. They hoard the near endless amounts of oil they pump from the ground, refusing to trade or share. Most of them also want to kill Max when they first make contact due to a lack of trust. Then you have the fact that this story is being told by the feral kid who is obviously going to be biased.  That’s not to say that Lord Humungus’ gang of bikers are any better. They are most certainly a vile and horrible group of people.

Once again if you find violence and sexual abuse to be upsetting then I’d avoid this film. It’s made rather clear that in an attempt to strike fear into Papagallo’s tribe they torture and rape any members they get their hands on. The cruelty and violence in this new world are never shied away from and it can make for some uncomfortable moments. While some films and TV shows overuse this sort of ferocity Mad Max never does. You tend to see the aftermath more than you see the acts themselves. I find this is a good middle ground between being unpleasant to watch and ignoring the extreme acts of violence that people are capable of. This is a nasty world and it would make little sense to not include the acts of abuse that would take place in such a world. At the same time, I’m glad we never have to watch it on screen.

All of this and I’ve yet to talk about the thing that Mad Max 2 does best. The action. This film is bonkers in terms of its chase scenes. Even to this day, it blows my mind that no digital effects were used considering the chaos you see on screen. The first film only had 2 real action scenes and although they were amazing they’re nothing on this. Cars are trashed, blown up, flipped and more in the many battles between both Papagallo and Humungous’ groups. We even get a bit of aerial combat with the gyro captain and his gyrocopter. You will be hard-pressed to find a film with action and carnage this enjoyable.

Similar to the first film there are a few problems with representation. A lot of the more violent evil people are queer coded wearing revealing tight leather with parts cut out. Most of what they wear could only really be described as fetish gear. Sadly it was common at this time to demonise the LGBT community and this is one example of that. Men also vastly outnumber the women, which was also common around the 80’s. To put all of this in a more simple term this is a film that is aimed at and mostly stars white cisgender heterosexual men. This doesn’t stop me enjoying the film because it’s still one of my all-time favourites. It is worth mentioning these issues as they do exist and ignoring them would simply doom us to repeat them.

Can you tell I think this is a timeless classic? Because I do. If you have somehow not seen Mad Max 2 then you simply need to watch it. So much of popular culture has been influenced by this masterpiece and it’s no wonder why. From Fallout to Resident Evil Extinction the impact of the Road Warrior is obvious. I can say with utmost confidence that it’s as great today as it always has been.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10.

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